Listen: Bobbie Houston chats to Hope 103.2’s Laura Bennett.
Even after 21 years leading ‘Colour’, Bobbie Houston still gets nervous and unsure about the enormous task in front of her.
It’s not all that surprising, given the annual event is now a marathon of nine consecutive conferences in seven cities around the world, including New York, Cape Town, London, Kiev and Sydney.
It’s a big job.
Bobbie, the global senior pastor of Hillsong Church who just turned 60, said she’s shy by nature and has had to overcome a lot of fear to lead and inspire women in their thousands.
“The bigness of it sometimes weighs on me, and I think, ‘God, I can’t do this’,” she told Hope 103.2’s Laura Bennett. “I’ll be honest: I don’t feel any more able all these years on, I still feel vulnerable, I still [pray], ‘Father, I can’t do this in my own strength, I need you’.”
But it’s her conviction about the need for a global message about Godly feminism and empowerment of women, that has kept her stepping up to the plate.
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“I have confidence that God has never failed, and I have confidence in the message.”
“My conviction about this message was greater than my fear,” she said. “So I have to step over these lines and keep stepping over them. I have confidence that [God] has never failed, and I have confidence in the message, and that at the end of the day we’ve just got to point women to Jesus and we’ve got to love them, and that’s simple. I can do that.”
She also leans on a large team staff and volunteers who work year-round on pulling the conference together.
“You start with a vision and an amazing team, we work 12 months in advance,” she said. “Your gift and your skill set grows, and the team around you grows, and we remember lessons along the way so that we don’t get it wrong this time. You grow in all of that.”
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‘Stay The Path’ an Encouragement to Keep Going
In the leadup to the 2017 Sydney Colour Conference, Hope 103.2’s Laura Bennett had a chance to catch up with Bobbie and grab hold of her new book, Stay The Path.
It brings together some of the best nuggets of wisdom the pastor has learnt over her years in ministry, and encourages readers to be faithful in whatever task God has called them to do.
“You can’t begin to put on paper in a book that size everything that you’ve learnt,” she said of the book. “So what I did was I just drew back, created a rough structure of 10 chapters, and I just went, ‘OK, God, which part of the journey do I share?’
“Rather than try to fit everything in, which was giving me brain-cramp, I sat there with a blank page, and just wrote inspiration. I let the Holy Spirit ‘drop it’. I really hope it’s a blessing to people.”
Bobbie’s Tip: Be True to Yourself
Laura asked the world-travelling pastor how she remains authentic and has so much fun, laughing and snorting and sharing embarrassing personal stories, when she is being watched by thousands.
Her answer was simple: “I think you just have to be yourself”.
“But I always qualify that by saying, ‘make sure that’s your redeemed self’,” she added. “I think honesty and transparency is very attractive. People identify with that. So I have no trouble taking the mickey out of myself. I share far too much information! But somehow that resonates.”
Placing Value on Women in the Church and the Community
Bobbie’s key message to women is about their worth. “It’s knowing that you are valued, and that there is a God in heaven who believes in you, and that you’re not alone in that,” she said.
“We must never lose sight of the millions of lives around the world who don’t have that revelation.”
“That can sound so easy to say, and can become familiar to women who already know that. But we must never lose sight of the millions of lives around the world who don’t have that revelation.”
She added that she also wants to encourage women to be involved in leadership in the context of the church; something that doesn’t come easily in every church denomination.
“I think historically women have felt contained when it comes to ministry,” she said. “I know it’s a sometimes a bit of a sacred subject for some. In our [Hillsong] context, women being involved in ministry is very normal, natural, unforced. But I recognise that’s not true everywhere. So [at Colour Conference] I want to present some of that message, but with grace.”
The theme of the 2017 Colour Conference, which is on in Sydney from March 16 to 22 (two conferences), is ‘Be Found in the Field’ – a slogan encouraging women to be faithful and ‘attentive’ in whatever location, role and season of life they are called to. Guest speakers include Lisa Harper and Sy Rogers.